Stirling child protection service improves

INSPECTORS say “positive progress” is being made by Stirling Council in protecting the area’s most at risk children.

HM Inspectorate of Education conducted a follow up visit in May this year, almost 12 months after publishing a damning report on the joint inspection of services to protect children in June 2010.

Following the extensive criticism, services in the area – including Stirling Council, Central Scotland Police and NHS Forth Valley – prepared an action plan which set out how they would address the agreed areas for improvement listed.

Inspectors planned to revisit the area within one year and responsiblity for this transferred to Social Care and Social Work Improvement Scotland.

They said: “Inspectors revisited the Stirling Council area to assess the extent to which services were making progress against agreed areas for improvement set out in a report published by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) in June 2010.

“Chief officers are taking effective action to ensure progress is being made against all of the agreed areas for improvement. They are making very positive progress in those areas which present the greatest risk for the safety of children.

“Although many improvements to processes and practice are still at an early stage, there are clear signs that these developments should lead to long term and sustainable progress.

“Improved partnerships, team working and stronger leadership of the Child Protection Committee provide a firm foundation for continued service improvement.”

Last year the child protection services were deemed “weak” in four out of six key areas.

At that time the inspectors said some children and families were not getting the help they needed early enough, or for as long as they need it, and that risk of harm and abuse for these children increased as a result.

They had added that in emergencies staff found places for children who could not stay at home safely, but did not always carry out checks to make sure relatives and friends were suitable to care for them.

The inspectors had also wanted to see: improvement plans for children and ensuring their individual needs were fully met; development of more effective ways of identifying what services needed to do to improve and involve children, families and staff more fully in these processes; and strengthened leadership of the Stirling Child Protection Committee to improve services to protect children.

The only element evaluated as good at that time was the children were listened to and respected, with the meeting of needs and reduction of long term harm deemed merely “satisfactory”.